Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Oppositional Defiant Disorder and ADHD

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Having a hard time with "tough love"?

“Our son ran after having a fight with his father ‘cause he doesn’t want rules, no curfews'. He'll be 18 in March. All he keeps saying is, 'I will NOT come home unless you agree that I will NOT be punished, and I WILL get my car back, period'. This has been going on for 3 weeks. We can't give in, but are having a hard time with the tough love. We paid for the car, insurance, and have his cell on suspension, but he thinks it's canceled. Any advice?”

I would simply say to him something like this:

“Son …we can’t control you. If you really want to run away from home, we can’t stop you. We can’t watch you 24 hours a day – and we can’t lock you up in the house. But no one in the world loves you the way we do. That is why we have established these house rules. Because we love you, we can’t stand by and watch you do whatever you want – whenever you want – without any house rules. Running away from home will not make us change our minds about providing supervision and rules.”

Then it’s his choice to return home under your house rules or continue to attempt to manipulate you into changing your minds. A long as he is safe, I would just let him know that he is loved and that he can return home whenever he’s ready, and that he can take all the time he needs to make a decision. But he will have to follow the plan …period.

In the meantime, catch yourself feeling guilty – or feeling sorry for him – and remind yourself that you are fostering the development of self-reliance in your child. This is for his benefit – not yours.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have 2 teens, a son age 18 and a daughter age 16. My son has been abusive and violent in our home, disrespectful towards me, even in front of his friends, or I should say, especially in front of his friends. He has destroyed property in our home, punching holes in the walls and doors. He attempts to control and intimidate me, and is filled with inappropriate rage and contempt towards me. My daughter is learning and emulating his bad behavior, so now I have 2 to deal with. I am a single parent, divorced in 2003 and my ex husband passed away 3 years ago, so now I am entirely on my own with these kids. I have always treated my children with respect and love, so I have no idea how things got this bad. I have been told that I've been "too nice" to them. I suppose that I may have spoiled them a bit, but they aren't as indulged as most of their friends if that puts it into perspective (we live in a very upwardly mobile area, although we are not among the upwardly mobile). I had a good relationship with my kids when they were younger, but things have deteriorated rapidly.

I have been in therapy for the past 6 months or so, and it has been only marginally helpful. My therapist has classified my son as a narcissist and abuser, and encourages me to not only threaten to put him out of our home, but to follow through with these threats. Are difficult teenagers "narcissists"? Aren't they affected by their stage of development, and general lack of empathy? It brings me to tears to hear that my child is being labeled as a narcissist.

Meanwhile my daughter is feeling neglected because she thinks her brother has gotten all of my attention, since he's so emotionally demanding and difficult. So now she's emulating his behavior!

My therapist also labels me as co-dependent. I don't agree with any of this, since when is being a parent and not giving up on one's child a "co-dependent" behavior? It is true that my son is 18 and legally an adult, but it is clear to me that he is not emotionally or psychologically an adult, so it feels very wrong to me to abandon him rather than work to help him. My therapist says that it would be good for him to force him to earn his own way in the world, but it would still feel like abandonment to me, and I fear that he would hold this against me for the rest of his life.

I watched your video and was amazed at how accurately it described my own situation, especially the depression aspect. I have been terribly depressed about this. It's now the holiday season, and I can't seem to get in the spirit of the season, I don't want to celebrate because my children have beaten me down so much and I feel so depressed and defeated.


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